Severe rainstorms and blustery conditions blighted the Eastern Airways British Sidecar Championship at Knockhill at the weekend but a second and fourth place meant that Team Castrol Suzuki pair Steve Webster and Paul Woodhead returned home with their 44-point championship lead intact.
With torrential rain and high winds in force, Saturday's entire race program was abandoned, and a hasty rescheduling of the proceedings gave the sidecars a 10-lapper on Sunday morning, with a follow-up 15 lapper in the afternoon.
With tyre selection a complete lottery in the dramatically changing weather, Bawtry's Derek Brindley and passenger Neil Miller struck lucky with intermediate tyres for race 1, with practically all of the rest of the grid opting for full rain tyres on what then turned out to a rapidly drying track.
Despite racing on full wets, Webster's GSXR1000 powered outfit lead the race with just two laps to go, but Brindley's better grip saw him sweep through to a 3.8 second win over Webster:
Webster could do nothing as Brindley on the Team Readymix Suzuki made his run for the chequered flag:
"We were on full wets, I thought it was going to get wetter as the race progressed but it didn't, and we just didn't have the grip to stay with Derek."
It was a well received triumph for Brindley, returning to the racetracks this season after a five-year layoff. He formerly raced at World Championship level, winning the opening round of the 1994 series.
Not surprisingly the utterly atrocious conditions for race two once again meant tyre choice was the crucial factor.
This time Webster and Woodhead finished fourth, with the relatively unknown Brian Pedder and Rod Steadman (Suzuki) taking their first ever win at this level. Race 1 winner Brindley came home tenth. Pedder had finally wrested the lead from Tim Reeves after six laps and stormed away to his memorable victory.
Webster was philosophical about the whole day:
"In the second race we went for intermediates, but this time it got wetter! We guessed wrong both times, but that's the way it is sometimes. I'll just say congratulations to the lads who made the right tyre choices, they deserved the results they got. At least we are in the same position in the champiohsip as we were before the weekend, so we haven't lost any ground"
Fortunately for the Easingwold-based nine times World Champion, the combination of results with the nearest points challenge to Webster - the Reeves brothers - also getting a fourth and second , means the points difference remains at 44 points in Webster's favour.
"It's a very friendly place at Knockhill, but the weather always seems to be a problem. We even had hailstones! The place seems to have it's own climate. One thing came out of it though - we've changed wheels so many times over the weekend I think we'd qualify for jobs with a Formula 1 pit crew now!" joked Webster, no doubt looking forward to a pleasant summer's day at Brands Hatch at the end of the month for the next round in the series.
Before that though, Webbo's Team Castrol Suzuki equipe are back on the trail of the UEM European Sidecar Championship with a trip to the fourth round of the series at Most in the Czech Republic next weekend.
Eastern Airways Sidecar Championship, Round Eight race result (10 laps 13.00 miles):
- 1, Derek Brindley (Suzuki) - 9m 43.899s 80.06mph
- 2, Steve Webster (Suzuki) - 9m 47.741s
- 3, Greg Lambert (Suzuki) - 9m 52.228s
- 4, Tim Reeves (Suzuki) - 9m 52.570s
- 5, Andy Peach (Suzuki) - 9m 57.913s
- 6, Stuart Muldoon (Suzuki) - 9m 59.356s
- 7, Richard Gatt (Suzuki) - 10m 02.032s
- 8, Ben Birchall (Yamaha) - 10m 19.589s
- 9, Bill Philp (Yamaha) - 10m 19.615s
- 10, Mike Ibbotson (Suzuki) - 10m 21.683s
Eastern Airways Sidecar Championship, Round Nine race result, (15 laps 19.50 miles):
- 1, Bryan Pedder (Suzuki) - 15m 56.645s 73.30mph
- 2, Tim Reeves (Suzuki) - 15m 59.943s
- 3, Stuart Muldoon (Suzuki) - 16m 10.387s
- 4, Steve Webster (Suzuki) - 16m 10.426s
- 5, Richard Gatt (Suzuki) - 16m 11.222s
- 6, Greg Lambert (Suzuki) - 16m 17.035s
- 7, Steve Norbury (Yamaha) - 16m 21.430s
- 8, Andy Peach (Suzuki) - 16m 30.075s
- 9, Andy Laidlow (Suzuki) - 16m 30.095s
- 10, Derek Brindley (Suzuki) - 16m 30.276s
Next round: Brands Hatch July 30/31 - August 1
Current championship points after nine races:
- Webster - 178
- Reeves - 134
- Brindley - 107
- Lambert - 94
- Gatt - 84
- Pedder - 71
Next race: UEM European Sidecar Championship, Most, Czech Republic, July 10th
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